Our rating: 4 out of 5
reviewed by: Charity Bishop
Everything we loved about the first season is back stronger than ever in the four-movie set of Foyle's War, the imaginative film series about a police inspector in war-torn England.
Samantha Stuart (Honeysuckle Weeks) is the driver of Chief Inspector Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) in the small town of Hastings on the coast of England during the second world war. Her lodgings are shared by another young woman who works with the medical department. During the night an air raid leaves the house in shambles and her best friend dead. While the warden deals with chaos outside, two members of the AFS ((Auxiliary Fire Service) enter the building and steal small items that can be secreted away without suspicion. The following morning Foyle is drawn aside by an old friend, Andrew Lewes, whom he's not seen in twenty years. Recently having taken up a house on the coast, Lewes is preparing the household to welcome a wealthy American business tycoon, Howard Paige, who made his fortune as the inventor of the synchromeshed gear system. Paige is heavily in support of America joining the war and fighting Germany, and in order to make a good impression Lewes wants a collection of small but important members of the township present at his first evening in Hastings.
With the encouragement of Lewes' wife Elizabeth (Amanda Root), Foyle halfheartedly agrees. Learning that Sam's home has been destroyed, Foyle hastens to the scene of disaster and is begged by her landlady to track down thieves who made off with her husband's coin collection in the night, along with other valuables. His sergeant Milner (Anthony Howell) sets to work narrowing down a list of suspects, which include various members of society, a reporter on the scene, and a doctor. In the meantime, home problems and disagreements with his fellow criminal conspirators place the young man partially responsible in a tantrum. Terrified he's going to be found out, Kenny wants out of the gang, but he's in too deep to back out now and his father is growing suspicious. The affair turns devious when a body is found on the beach, a German spy creeps through enemy lines and is captured, and Sam attempts to find new living arrangements.
Foyle will be asked to draw together his patriotism along with leniency in the name of greater good as he ties together all individual threads and reveals a scandalous story of deception, greed, and murder. We will learn his strange reluctance to see Elizabeth again, as well as unearth the better side of Sam's nature, while being treated to the very best in human nature. There's a great deal to like about this series. Not only does it grant us a very realistic, meaningful glimpse into Britain's politics, natural fears, and feelings during wartime, it also paints realistic, likable main characters that aren't without flaws but are genuinely good men and women. There should be more detectives like Foyle, who believe in the spirit of the law rather than the letter. There are times when evil's comeuppance must be put aside for a greater good, but it does not diminish the nature of evil itself: eventually it will pay for its crimes.
There are several instances where characters are given the opportunity to do wrong and instead choose to remain moral. Elizabeth is a former fiancé of Foyle's who chose Lewes because her father insisted on it. Miserable in her marriage, she tries to tempt Foyle into a relationship. (It's unclear whether she means it to take place in addition to her current marriage or if a divorce would be involved.) Foyle tells her this is entirely inappropriate conversation, that he has no desire to begin a relationship, and asks her to leave. I really liked what he said about his wife, when she accused him of being cold, and asked if his wife's death contributed to that. "Her death changed nothing," he said, "but marrying her changed everything." Similarly, he takes Sam beneath his wing as a surrogate father when things become rough. Unable to find suitable lodgings, Sam briefly stays at Milner's house while his wife is out of town. The relationship is completely professional but both rapidly realize the dangers of pretense when his wife returns home. Sam rapidly moves into one of the prison cells at the jail rather than put them out further.
The first episode is arguably the best, but others are just as intense and memorable. "Among the Few" involves the death of an officer's girlfriend on an air force base, "War Games" turns up a body in the mist of military training, and "The Funk Hole" has Foyle accused of treason through inappropriate behavior during an air raid (of which he had no involvement). There is some content that bears mentioning, however. The second episode depicts RAF officers as being immoral (Andrew tries to entice his girlfriend into going to a hotel with him, and an unmarried pregnancy is spoken of). One of the soldiers turns out to be gay. There is some profanity, including a harsh abuse of Jesus' name. The violence is rarely graphic but does include a woman falling down a flight of stairs, two men beating up a third, blood appearing in a man's mouth after he has been fatally shot, a woman leaping to her death from a rooftop, and a man foaming at the mouth after being poisoned.
Andrew's feelings for his father are much different in this season than
the last, and once again we see them at odds but before the end of the
day, their problems have been resolved. Some morbid humor is thrown into
the works to guarantee a smile, and the season concludes on a happy
albeit slightly devious note. There's a real sense of patriotism
engrained into every line, and it makes us ask ourselves to define
greater evil from lesser crimes. If nothing else, it's
thought-provoking, and that's good enough.